Breast cancer awareness month is a time to increase awareness of a disease that affects thousands of women each year. We all know of someone who has been affected by cancer. Many people do not realize however, that there are actually natural ways to reduce your breast cancer risk. Now, these methods are not guaranteed by any means, but it can’t hurt to try, right?
Natural Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk
In the fight against breast cancer, a diet rich in raw, whole foods is key. While there are many other factors at play, a healthy diet can help keep your body in it’s natural state of health, helping to ward off infection. Board certified breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Mikki Seagren, had this to say:
We know that most breast cancers are sensitive to estrogen. Therefore, trying to avoid excessive levels of estrogen is a smart strategy for any woman. This can be achieved by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding prolonged hormone replacement therapy after menopause. Soy-based products contain phytoestrogens, and have come under scrutiny for these reasons, however there is no conclusive evidence at this time, for the association of breast cancer risk and phytoestrogen consumption. One must always look at their dietary habits from a holistic viewpoint. If your soy intake is not excessive and is in fact replacing a meat-based meal, then the benefits will outweigh the risk. Moderation is the key. Diets that are mostly plant-based is a sure way to get a healthy dose of micronutrients. Focus on whole foods and minimize your consumption of animal fats and proteins. Avoid processed foods whenever possible. “
Great nutrition offers hope to even those who are fighting the battle right now, and here’s why… Research has confirmed that certain foods can be used as a preventative measure to protect against disease, specifically breast cancer.
Eat the Rainbow
Family Medicine Physician, Dr. Kelenne Tuitt, also shared her thoughts. She said,
A plant-based diet or a Mediterranean diet with a mixture of vibrant colored fruits and vegetables can help fight breast cancer. Foods such as onions, broccoli, oranges, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes are full of flavonoids that have anti-cancer properties. Seasonings such as turmeric, ground clove, oregano leaves, ginger, cinnamon and yellow mustard seeds all have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances in your diet that help slow down or prevent damage to the cells by free radicles. You want to avoid the consumption of processed foods such as hot dogs, bacon, and sausages as these can increase free radicle production thus causing damage to cells.”
Nutrients to Focus On
Fiber – Researchers continue to show the link between eating fiber, and the reduction in breast cancer risk. Both soluble and insoluble fiber have been shown to reduce breast cancer risk when consumed daily (about 30 grams per day). Studies have shown that a significant risk reduction (32%) of breast cancer was noted when women consumed 30 grams of fiber a day, when compared to women who ate less than 25 grams per day, and only had a minimal risk reduction (2%).
Healthy Fats – Healthy fats contain essential fatty acids, called “essential” because your body does not produce them, and they have to be taken in through diet. These fatty acids include omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids and can be found in fish, seeds, nuts and oils. Research suggests that omega fats are particularly important to breast health.
Cruciferous Vegetables – These include arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale. Rich in phytochemicals including sulforaphane, these foods contain protective compounds that help prevent cancer.
Folate – Research has shown that women with higher folate levels may have a lower risk of breast cancer. Find folate in lentils, romaine lettuce, spinach, kidney beans, broccoli, asparagus, whole wheat bread and oranges.
Did you know that performing regular, moderate exercise, can significantly lower your breast cancer risk? Dr. Tuitt shared her professional thoughts on exercise:
Exercise on a regular basis helps to strengthen your immune system and helps with weight maintenance. Being overweight is a known risk factor for breast cancer. Having more fat tissue can increase both your estrogen and insulin hormone levels which have both been shown to increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer.”
We have plenty of fitness routines for all different fitness levels. Try one of these effective weight loss programs:
- 30-Day Walk Off the Pounds Challenge
- 4-Week Exercise Plan for Absolute Beginners
- 7-Day Weight Loss Workout Challenge for Beginners
Susan Feild is a Registered Nurse that specializes in breast health. She is a breast navigator at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center and had some great healthy lifestyle tips for reducing risk of breast cancer, including:
Save the alcohol for very special occasions. If you commit to limiting your alcohol intake, you’ll be doing your breasts a huge favor. Studies have shown that beer, wine and liquor affect estrogen and hormone levels that may increase breast cancer.
No butts. Smoking increases your chance of cancer, period. This includes second-hand smoke, too. To be extra safe, no vaping, either. Don’t smoke!
Breastfeed. Women who breastfeed have fewer menstrual cycles. This is breast cancer protective, since it decreases the lifetime exposure of estrogen to the breast. Timing matters; the longer you breastfeed, the better.”
Dr. Seagren also had this last piece of advice to add:
Stress reduction is also important. Implementing a nighttime wind-down routine can promote restful, high quality sleep. Likewise, allowing yourself time to exercise and/or dedicating a quiet space in your home to meditate, will also reduce stress. Self-care is very important, yet it is the first thing we sacrifice when life gets busy.”
Reducing Risk of Cancer and Getting Healthy!
Aside from reducing your risk of breast cancer, these tips will help you become an overall healthier and fitter person! There are no downsides to making healthier choices. The more often you can do what’s right for your health, the better off you will be!